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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
ANIMAL CRACKERS, the debut album by Chicago group Wee Hairy Beasties, is bluesy, folksy fun for parents and wee human beasties alike to sing and dance to. Most of the songs are fueled by down-home country acoustic guitars and harmonicas, intermittently sweetened with male and female vocal harmonies. A 1940s-style swing style makes an appearance as well. Each musician has a cartoon animal persona such as Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel (star of his own catchy theme song) and Marjorie the Singing Bee, whose \"statistics\" -- natural habitat, range, and favorite things -- are featured on the liner notes. Although animals are a tried-and-true theme in children's music, the Beasties thankfully eschew barnyard standards in favor of songs about platypuses, \"ragtime ducks,\" and glowworms. Or consider the blues songs \"Housefly Blues\" and \"I'm an A.N.T.,\" which provide alternative viewpoints from the perspective of the common pest.
Is it any good?
These songs are great fun for young children (actually for everyone). For example, the title track is perfect for stomp-alongs, encouraging shouts of "WEE!" in each line of the chorus. The "Road Safety Song" is another highlight, advocating safe driving while keeping it playful: "There's a bug in the headlights -- SPLAT!" As fun as this CD is, it might've benefited from a bit more diverse instrumentation, but the Beasties do nail the old-time revival sound. (Interesting side note: Two of the Beasties, Jon Langford and Sally Timms, hail from the seminal British punk band the Mekons.)